Board of Trustees Report, February 21, 2020

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The following is a summary of the NJSBA’s Board of Trustees meeting. It does not constitute official minutes.

   
The NJSBA’s zealous efforts at the recent American Bar Association (ABA) Mid-Year Meeting cleared the way for innovations to help address the justice gap, while ensuring each state can pursue the path that is right for it and collect data to determine future plans.
   
The NJSBA’s advocacy centered on Resolution 115, which was before the ABA’s House of Delegates. The NJSBA’s delegation at the meeting in Austin worked to ensure the resolution that was adopted was substantially revised to reaffirm that the model rules continue to oppose non-lawyer ownership of law firms and that there should be no erosion to rules governing the unauthorized practice of law.
   
At the board meeting, President Evelyn Padin formed a committee to examine additional ways to help address the needs of the public.
   
The new committee will seek solutions to address the problem of access to legal services. It will also work to advance the technology platform the NJSBA is developing to provide a way to match attorneys who are willing to work at reduced rates with members of the public who qualify for reduced-fee legal services. The NJSBA’s goal is to make this program, called Legal Edge, a free statewide resource that county and affinity bars can also use to launch their own reduced-fee platforms.
   
The board gave the green light for the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE), the NJSBA’s education arm, to bring in special speakers.
   
On March 27, actor Peyton Dixon will add to the NJICLE’s “History Meets CLE” programming portraying  President Theodore Roosevelt. Along with constitutional law expert Donald Scarinci, Dixon will explore Roosevelt’s life and times, with an emphasis on his approach to the legislation conceived and adopted during the Progressive Era that changed the paradigm of American liberty and democracy.
   
Other featured speakers to join the NJICLE programming line-up will be Joe Novello, who will cover finance for lawyers, and Edward Hatch, who will discuss negotiation strategies. Both will soon be added to the calendar at njicle.com.
   
Two sections received approval from the trustees regarding their annual awards. The Military Law and Veterans Affairs Section will rename its annual award to recognize Sanford “Sandy” Rader, who was a founding member of the section and died in Dec. 2018 at the age of 87. The Elder and Disability Law Section received approval for the criteria it uses in awarding the Mary WanderPolo Award for Advocacy Excellence in the Field of Elder Law. The award is presented to an individual who has performed significant service to the elderly and disabled community. The board also approved the criteria for the NJSBA Elder and Disability Law Section Distinguished Service Award, which is presented to a member of the section who exemplifies leadership in the field.
   
The trustees approved Intelliscan Inc. as the third-party provider to conduct an election this spring.
   
In response to a law recently adopted in Tennessee (the site of the upcoming Family Law Retreat) that pertains to adoption placements, the trustees said the membership should be updated about the law and what will be done to discuss it in a comparative and historical analysis, laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and those that explicitly permit exclusion based on sexual orientation, gender identity, religious views or moral convictions.
   
Padin issued the following statement to the NJSBA’s membership last week. The statement read:
   
“Every year the New Jersey State Bar Association’s very active Family Law Section conducts an out-of-state meeting, the Family Law Retreat, that combines continuing legal education and networking in an entertaining location. This March the section is heading to Nashville, Tennessee, a destination that was selected more than a year ago.
   
On January 24, 2020, the Governor of Tennessee signed into a law a measure that had been adopted by the state’s legislature a few weeks before. The new law “prohibits, to the extent allowed by federal law, a private licensed child-placing agency from being required to perform, assist, consent to, refer, or participate in any child placement for foster care or adoption that would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”
   
While the NJSBA Board of Trustees noted that Nashville is a city with a rich and innovative tradition of embracing the LGBTQ community, including being the first city in the South to adopt an LGBT business enterprise certification, they also noted that the new law raises issues about diversity and inclusion that warrant further discussion and debate. For this reason, the Family Law Section will use this opportunity to enhance the continuing legal education programming to specifically address, in a comparative and historical analysis, laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and those that explicitly permit exclusion based on sexual orientation, gender identity, religious views or moral convictions.
   
As attorneys, we are trained to advance legal arguments and champion constitutional principles to protect the rights of individuals. We believe that education and open dialogue are the best means to do so. We look forward to addressing this new measure directly, taking into account myriad perspectives, and in the spirit of the Association’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

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